Is Heart of Dakota college worthy?

Dear Carrie

Is Heart of Dakota college worthy?

I guess rather than this being a question I’m asking Carrie now, this is my answer to a question I used to have for Carrie. I’ve been meaning to share this, but I have just been so busy. Anyway, my oldest graduated after completing 9 Heart of Dakota programs. I know the question comes up – is Heart of Dakota college worthy? The answer is ‘yes!’ My first HOD kid graduated, and she received a full scholarship for tuition and books at a private Christian college. That is for the first four years of college, completely paid in full. She has friends going to the same school, and none received the kind of scholarship she did.

My daughter received high scores on the ACT, and we give Heart of Dakota the credit for that!

She did score very well on the ACT and that helped. So, I asked her what she thought helped the most with the ACT. She said that honestly it was HOD. I sort of expected she was going to say it was me making her study, hahaha! But, apparently nope; it was HOD. She said it really helped her with the language on the test and interpreting the questions in particular. That turns out to be a huge thing for these tests. Also, she had a very rich transcript and that was because of the wide coverage HOD gives in terms of credits you can claim legitimately for their study. That turned out to be huge in terms of making her stand out.

My daughter was well prepared for college, and we give Heart of Dakota credit for that!

The other question people have is, will they be able to make it in college? Well, I think HOD helped us there. She is scoring very high so far, and she was very worried she would not be able to cut it in college having been homeschooled. Now, she is completely confident because she is seeing she was very well prepared. All the writing and narration in HOD and the organization she learned in how to study really helped her. And by the way, she keeps on coming home and telling me that she has yet to read a story for her English course that was not covered in HOD. So, I’d say that is a big plus in the choosing of material within HOD.

My daughter initially struggled with choosing a major, but we think the spiritual content in Heart of Dakota helped her with that!

I want to also say that she struggled with choosing a major. I think HOD and the spiritual content helped her there as well. She ended up picking something completely different than she was thinking. But, I can see it is definitely a full circle God thing. She is going to get a degree in Christian counseling and specialize in the area of adoption. As she was adopted herself, I think HOD helped her to have more of a mission focus along the way. She has big goals and plans to go on to the PhD level, so apparently HOD gave her a love for learning.

I am a mom of six, and I’m so glad HOD teaches children how to learn to be independent!

Ok, having said all that, I am a mom of six, and we have had a lot of tragedy during our homeschooling years. I would say I am really a very average and somewhat easily distracted teacher. A lot of her schooling was very independent. But, isn’t it great we can choose a curriculum that really teaches them how to learn and be independent?!? Ultimately, that is the goal. Thank you Carrie, Julie, and Mike for all of your help along the way. Next year, I have three more graduating with HOD. It’s good to know it really was enough, and they really are prepared for the real world.


“Ms. Thank You Heart of Dakota for Preparing My Daughter for College”

Dear “Ms. Thank You Heart of Dakota for Preparing My Daughter for College,”

It was wonderful to hear an update on your kiddos and so encouraging to read about your oldest daughter’s experiences – coming from an HOD background as she headed into college. As homeschool moms, we want to be sure that we are preparing our kiddos the best that we can for what lies ahead, and that burden can feel heavy at times!

We celebrate with you, and we thank you for sharing your story!

It helps to hear stories from moms who have finished the homeschool journey as you have with your oldest daughter. We celebrate with you in that accomplishment!! I know that you have more kiddos to go yet, and I pray the Lord will walk with you and uplift you as you travel the homeschool road. I’m so glad to “see” you again! It seems like yesterday I was talking to you on the phone about putting your older kiddos in Bigger Hearts!! I also remember the blessing of meeting you at convention. Oh my! I often wonder where the years go. Thank you for taking the time to post an update to encourage all of us!


Grading, Making a Transcript, and Discounts on Car Insurance

Dear Carrie

How should I handle grading and making a transcript for a discount on my son’s car insurance?

I need help with guidelines that I could follow to know how to handle grading with my son. We are using Heart of Dakota‘s Revival to Revolution. He is in 10th grade. We can get a discount on car insurance if he makes a certain letter grade. I THINK I’d grade him no lower than a ‘B-,’ but I will have to ask my husband for sure on that. I want to be fair to him. OR, would you not try to take the discount and just pay the full cost of having him on our insurance when he gets his driver’s license? What would you do in this situation? Thanks in advance!

“Ms. Please Help Me with Grading, Transcripts, and Discounted Car Insurance”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Grading, Transcripts, and Discounted Car Insurance,”

Our car insurance company accepted transcripts that I made for my sons through I just listed the courses for each year of his high school and listed the grade that they received. If your son has only completed ninth grade, you would only list ninth grade course titles. This is a professional and inexpensive way to create an accurate transcript. That is what we submitted to our insurance.

Helpful Details About the Transcript

The website saves your transcript, so you can return to it and add to it each year if desired. I also used this for my two oldest sons’ college requirements for high school transcripts when they graduated. The transcript has a place for standardized test scores if you decide to list those. Any field that you leave blank as you create the transcript will not print on your actual transcript.

Receiving a Discount for Car Insurance

In place of the school name, I just put “High School Transcript.” That way it said that at the top of the transcript. We haven’t had any problems getting the discount for car insurance when I submitted these transcripts. So, that may possibly work for you. I would try it, and then if they do not accept it you can worry about doing a standardized test. It is common here to only do standardized testing in grade 11 in high school.

Information About Receiving Standardized Tests Through BJU

If you do go the standardized test route, you can get the Iowa Basics Skills Test or the Stanford Achievement Test through BJU, but you have to be approved as a tester first. I believe you must have proof of a college degree to be approved as a Stanford tester. I believe that you need a high school diploma to be an Iowa Basic Skills tester. We did the Iowa Test for years and years this way with our boys.

Information About Receiving Standardized Tests Through Seton

You can get the CAT, the Iowa, or the Stanford Tests through Seton Homeschool. The CAT does not require you to be approved as a tester. Seton also offers an online version of the Stanford Test, where they administer the test for you as your child takes it on their own computer at home. The Stanford10 test was going to be retired, but it sounds like the retirement date has been moved. So, for now the Stanford10 is still available. We have done the CAT test through Seton as well with our boys. Hope that helps!



Should ‘In Their Sandals’ writing pieces be a certain length?

Dear Carrie

Should I push for my son’s ‘In Their Sandals’ writing pieces to be a certain length?
My son is using In Their Sandals with the U.S. History I guide. He is finishing up his first story. The directions say that there isn’t a set amount of words, number of paragraphs or length required. My son is one who isn’t going to write something lengthy unless directions specifically say to do that. His first story has good sentence structure and vocabulary. It tells the story, but there isn’t a lot of extras. It is fairly short. So, my question is, what if children don’t write very long stories?¬† And if so, would you say that was okay? Or, should I push for him to make his stories a certain length or number of words? My son and I are both used to EIW where you knew exactly what was expected in the previous Heart of Dakota guides. So, this one is just a little tougher for me to grade and figure out expectations.
“Ms. Please Help Me with Length Expectations of In Their Sandals Writing Assignments”
Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Length Expectations of ‘In Their Sandals’ Writing Assignments,”

As we did In Their Sandals, I found that the length of my son’s writings varied quite a bit throughout the year. Since this writing program has more of a creative writing bent, I think that it’s fine to have pretty big variations in length. Grading-wise, as long as my son did a good job completing the planning sheets, made sure to include what was asked of him in the writing, tried to apply the grammar/writing tools mentioned, and did his best proofing and editing, I allowed quite a bit of leeway in the length. This is because for this program it is meant to be freeing for the students not to have a set length to attain. Rather, students can write in a way that suits their intended purpose.

One goal for ‘In Their Sandals’ is to encourage development of a student’s voice, so there are purposefully fewer constraints and greater leeway in length requirements.

For In Their Sandals, if we place a certain length requirement on the student, he/she will begin writing to attain the length rather than allowing the writing be whatever length it needs to be in order fulfill the idea in his/her head. Freedom in writing – figuring out how to take an idea from its inception to finish – with fewer constraints is actually a skill to be developed for this year of writing. It can be tough to write outside of a formula, yet that is where a student’s voice develops and appears. From what you’ve shared, it sounds like your son did very well with this first assignment. I would be pleased with his work.


P.S. Check out our Top Ten Christian Homeschool Questions!

How should I go about grading Foerster’s Algebra I?

Dear Carrie

We are starting our first year of high school, and this is brand new to me. So, I really appreciate the instructions Heart of Dakota has provided in the World Geography guide! I am still at a loss on how to grade Foerster’s Algebra I, and I appreciate any help you can give me!


“Ms. Please Help Me Grade Foerster’s Algebra I”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Grade Foerster’s Algebra I,”

At the high school level, the way that you weight your grades can vary widely. Almost any combination of daily work, reviews, and assessment will work. For example, you could use daily work as 50 percent of the grade or you could change that percentage up or down. As mentioned, daily work can just be earned by effort and completion (and correcting one’s mistakes). This is because quite often in daily work the material is new, and as students are trying to learn new concepts they often falter. So, using students’ first efforts at something new is not a true grade.

Options for Grading Chapter Reviews and Tests

Next, in considering how heavily to weight tests, at the high school level completion of chapter reviews often take up a portion of the assessment grade. So, I might lean toward 20 percent for chapter reviews and 30 percent for tests. Again, these percentages can be changed up or down.

Options for Grading Using Open-Book Testing Or Written Notes During Testing

Another option that is used with increasing frequency is for tests to be open-book. Or, instead you might allow your student to write down on an index card any helpful formulas or notes to be used during the test. This type of grading was something that was done in my college math classes. I learned to write very small!!

How Grading Is Weighted Within College Classes Varies Widely

Even at the college level, where tests are weighted much more heavily, there is quite a bit of variation as to how much other output students are required to complete for the rest of their score. Some courses are almost wholly test based, and others split the grade out more with a large amount of other output. My oldest sons’ college classes have varied widely in how things are weighted. It is often the instructor’s prerogative. Since you are the instructor, your prerogative reigns. You just need to be able to justify how you arrived at the grade.


Should my children do poetry copywork if they are doing Cheerful Cursive?

Dear Carrie

If my children are doing Cheerful Cursive in Bigger Hearts, should I still have them do the poetry copywork?

We are starting Heart of Dakota‘s Bigger Hearts for His Glory on Monday. I wasn’t sure if I should have my kids do both the Cheerful Cursive and the Charlotte Mason copywork in the Poetry section. Even though we are starting cursive, their printing could still use some work. Should I do both? Or, is there enough other writing that they will still get enough printing practice? Thanks in advance for your help, and we can’t wait to start!


“Ms. Not Sure If My Children Should Do Copywork and Cursive”

Dear “Ms. Not Sure If My Children Should Do Poetry Copywork and Cursive,”

The choice of whether to do the poetry copywork in Bigger Hearts works well either way, as the poetry copywork is an optional choice if you’re currently doing Cheerful Cursive or Italic D. When we did Bigger Hearts with my second son, we did the poetry copywork in manuscript along with doing Cheerful Cursive. However, that particular son of mine loves to write. There is plenty of writing/copywork within Bigger Hearts, so if you have a child who does not love to write or is easily tired by too much writing, I wouldn’t do the poetry copywork. Instead, I would work toward fully doing the other assigned copywork in history and science and vocabulary.

What We Decided to Do with My Third Son’s Poetry Copywork and Cursive in Bigger Hearts

When my third son did Bigger Hearts for His Glory, I decided to do the poetry copywork in manuscript but wait on Cheerful Cursive. He just was not nearly ready for cursive. I based this decision on him having had some struggles with handwriting due to having surgery on the tips of his fingers on his left hand, as well as on us having to make him be a “righty” when he was obviously a “lefty”). Anyway, we added cursive for him the next homeschool year, when we came back to finish the rest of Bigger Hearts (at which point we decided not to continue with the optional poetry copywork in manuscript).

What We Decided to Do with My Fourth Son’s Poetry Copywork and Cursive in Bigger Hearts

When my fourth son did Bigger Hearts for His Glory, I chose a pace of half-speed with him. As I wanted him to continue practicing his printing but also begin learning cursive, I had him do both the poetry copywork and Cheerful Cursive. So, one day he did the poetry copywork, and the next day he did Cheerful Cursive. This way, I had him strengthening his fine motor skills by writing every day. So, there are many options to choose from, and I would choose which is best for each of your children doing Bigger Hearts based on their individual needs.